A term that, when applied generally, means clearness, elegance, symmetry, and repose produced by attention to traditional forms. It is sometimes synonymous with excellence or artistic quality of high distinction. More precisely, the term refers to the admiration and imitation of Greek and Roman literature, art, and architecture.
Cl. p. can be defined in either of two ways: (1) as the aggregate of opinions and doctrines which were put forward concerning poetry during Cl. antiquity, i.e. roughly between 750 b.c. and a.d. 200; or (2) as that more or less coherent body of critical doctrine which is represented chiefly by the Poetics of Aristotle and the so-called Ars poetica of Horace.
The epics of Homer date from the 8th century BC, though their echoes of Mycenaean civilization suggest that they may have existed in oral form for considerably longer. A little later (c. 700) Hesiod's poems portray the lives and concerns of farmers.
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